Great Western Hospital's chief executive has urged people to do their bit and help free up hospital beds over the winter.

In a message posted on Twitter, Kevin McNamara asked those who have family members ready to be discharged to do so before the weekend. He warned that an increase in traditional respiratory viruses as well as Covid-19 infections means the hospital desperately needs more beds.

He said: “We are under significant pressure due to the increasing number of Covid and non-Covid patients needing to be admitted to hospital.

“This has been increasing steadily over the past week.

“As we look ahead to the next few days and weeks, we expect this number to increase potentially quite significantly, creating even more demand for beds.

“If you have a loved one at GWH who is ready to go home, please support their discharge home before the weekend.”

Mr McNamara also urged people to call the 111 line first before ‘worrying, self-diagnosing or second-guessing’.

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Swindon increased by 61 over the last 24 hours, official figures show.

He spoke out as Public Health England figures revealed that 3,421 people had been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 by 9am yesterday in Swindon, up from 3,360 the same time on Wednesday.

The health body is now including Pillar 2 tests – those carried out by commercial partners – alongside Pillar 1 tests, which are analysed in NHS or PHE laboratories and which made up the first stage of the Government’s mass testing programme.

The rate of infection in Swindon now stands at 1,540 cases per 100,000 people, far lower than the England average of 2,220.

Across the UK, the number of recorded cases increased by 22,915 over the period to 1,453,256.

Swindon’s cases were among the 70,175 recorded across the South West, a figure which rose by 1,538 over the period.

Cumulative case counts include patients who are currently unwell, have recovered and those that have died.

New date also revealed that Swindon’s Covid contact tracing success rate has fallen for a second week, amid a record number of new positive cases.

Data from the Department for Health and Social care shows 2,338 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Swindon were transferred to the Test and Trace service between May 28 and November 11.

That means 455 new cases were transferred in the latest seven-day period – the largest increase since the regime began.

Contact tracers ask new patients to give details for anyone they were in close contact with in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.

This led to 6,202 close contacts being identified over the period – those not managed by local health protection teams, which are dealt with through a call centre or online.

But only 62.2 per cent were reached – down from 63.4 per cent at the start of the scheme to October 28, and 63.3 per cent by November 4.

Across England, 58.9 per cent of contacts not managed by local health protection teams were reached and told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace in the latest week to November 11.